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No exams for Tanzanian doctors as medical board releases requirements

By Graham Kajilwa | Updated Sun, March 19th 2017 at 17:12 GMT +3
Health CS Cleopa Mailu (left) and PS Nicholas Muraguri
Health CS Cleopa Mailu (left) and PS Nicholas Muraguri

A simple identity card, curriculum vitae and certificate of good conduct are what the 500 Tanzanian doctors are required to have in order to be employed in Kenya, a medical board has revealed.

Contrary to arguments that the foreign doctors will be subjected to an exam before they are registered, Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (KMPDB) has stated otherwise.

A statement from the Board's Chief Executive Officer Daniel Yumbya stated that the doctors will be exempted from the pre-registration exam as per the agreement within the East African Community (EAC).

As long as the doctors arm themselves with their updated curriculum vitae, academic certificates and certificate of good conduct, they will be half way to getting employed.

This has also been confirmed by President Uhuru Kenyatta through his aide Manoah Esipisu who said once employed, the doctors will be paid at par with other medical officers and interns.

And considering that the Tanzanian doctors have no access to the mortgage, car loan packages or pension offered under Kenya's public service scheme, Esipisu said it means that they will come in at a 'cost effective' and 'sustainable basis'.

Esipisu said the doctors from Tanzania will be issued with work permits and limited to working to a hospital-or hospitals-they have been assigned.

They will be required to give their full attention to patients in public hospitals across the country and will not be involved in private practice.

"It must be noted again, and contrary to misinformed opinion in some quarters, that the curriculum in East African medical schools has been rationalised and a doctor qualifying in any East African country can work in another without further examination or exam," said Esipisu.

EXAM EXEMPTION

And in line with the 'importation plan', KMPDB has released a detailed 10 point list of requirements for the doctors and any other specialist from EAC who will be interested in working in the country.

In the statement, the board's CEO Mr Yumbya clarified that under the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Act Cap. 253, the Board has made provision for Reciprocal Recognition /Registration for Doctors who are EAC Nationals.

"Under the Protocol, the said doctors are exempted from sitting Board's Pre-Registration Exam for those who have already completed their internship program in the country of training," said Yumbya.

As part of the requirement, the students who qualify from the accredited/Recognized EAC Partner States Medical/Dental Schools under the EAC Protocol are the only who will be accepted.

In Tanzania, seven institutions are accredited among them Dar-es-Salaam University (Muhimbili College of Health Sciences and Allied Studies), Muhimbili University College of Health and Allied Sciences(Dental School), and Hubert Kariuki Memorial University College of Health Sciences.

Others are: St Augustine Bugado University College of Health Sciences, Tumaini University (Kilimanjaro Christian College), and Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences.

According to the list, the doctors must be Tanzanian nationals (member of the East African Community), avail a copy of their Identity Card, coloured passport photos, a certificate of internship completion and present copies of their academic certificates

They also have to provide evidence of provisional or permanent registration by EAC Partner State Medical Board-in this case Tanzanian Medical Board.

Other requirements are certificate of status (good conduct), application fee of Sh5000 (USD 50) and evaluation of qualification papers Sh30, 000(USD300).

DOCTOR RATION

While the actual process to higher foreign doctors could take up a year to have them deployed, KMPDB has said with regard to the EAC Protocol, it shall take between five to fourteen days.

The move by the government to hire the 500 medics has been bashed by the doctors union as impractical as the shortage is so big.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) 2013 figures, against Kenya's population of about 45 million, for every 1,000 Kenyans, there is a 0.19 per cent chance of being seen by a physician, and 0.25 per cent chance of being seen by a dentist.

In Tanzania, despite their bid to deploy 500 of their doctors, the figures are wanting as in 2014, the ration was reported to be one doctor to 18,000 patients compared to Kenya's one to 16,000.

But figures from the KMPDB state that the ration stands at 1:5,033 inclusive of foreign doctors.

Both figures are below the recommended WHO standards which were 1:1,000 by 2015 and 1:600 by 2020. And when the 500 doctors arrive, a doctor in Kenya will be seeing nine patients less.

As at March 19, there are about 10, 786 registered medical officers (with only 6,716 active) and 1, 239 dentists-with 699 active, 2, 586 specialists-2,101 active.

On foreign doctors, only 1,481 medical doctors are active out of 2, 565 who are registered. There are also 45 active or retained dentists out of 114 registered.

It is on the background of these figures that Health Cabinet Secretary Dr Cleopa Mailu over the weekend went shopping for doctors in Tanzania to seal an agreement with the country's President Dr John Pombe Magufuli.

"The President (President Uhuru Kenyatta) has been concerned about the doctor: patient ratio for some time and has been determined to improve it, and significantly bring in the right skills set required in some areas," said Esipisu.

Tanzania, according to a local newspaper, can only afford to employ at most 450 doctors of 1,200 it produces every year. Kenya on the other hand is said to have 1, 400 doctors lurking around without jobs despite being trained by the ministry, a claim that the government has dismissed.

"Doctors are the only cadre of professionals that are still posted directly to hospitals from college; first as Interns, and after a year or so are confirmed as Medical Officers," explained Esipisu, the State House Spokesperson.

He went on: "Some do leave to expend all their energies in private practice, while others stick in government, while still committing large chunks of their time to private practice."

A Collective Bargaining Agreement between the government and doctors union expected to be signed and registered in court by May 14, outlines that at least 1,200 doctors should be employed every year for four years to address the shortage.

The four year belated agreement if implemented-in addition to the 500 Tanzanian doctors-means the ratio will improve to 1:3,539 which is still way below the 2020 WHO standard of 1:600.


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